Banksy 'shredded picture' stunt not likely to happen again

PARIS • Let's cut to the chase. While the folks selling prints by Banksy do not anticipate a repeat of a recent stunt - where a picture was partially shredded after the hammer fell - they would not be torn up if that happened again.

"Are we expecting it? Not really. Perhaps we are hoping for it," said auctioneer Arnaud Oliveux of Artcurial auction house in Paris, which is selling three Banksy prints this week.

"I would love it if something happens," he admitted.

The British artist has done more to cultivate his mystique in the two weeks since a print of one of his best-known works, Girl With Balloon, slid halfway through a shredder embedded in its frame, moments after it was sold at Sotheby's in London.

Banksy released a new video last week that suggested the partial destruction was a malfunction.

It showed an identical print in the same frame being entirely shredded, with the caption "in rehearsals, it worked every time".

The copy in the clip appears to have been printed on paper, whereas the Girl With Balloon sold at auction was spray-painted on canvas, a tougher material, which may explain why the destruction failed.

Banksy's prank caused shock and amusement, but it also led to a rash of conspiracy theories about Sotheby's involvement.

"Some people think the auction house was in on it, it wasn't," Banksy said in an Instagram post last Thursday, alerting people to the YouTube clip.

The buyer of the shredded work decided to keep it, as the value is likely to benefit from the high-profile drama.

Mr Oliveux said if Banksy was planning another stunt for the next auction, it probably would not involve a secret shredder.

"Banksy never repeats himself," said Mr Oliveux. "Here, you see the frame, there's nothing at all hidden in the structure. But, perhaps, we could imagine a different stunt."

The auction house said it cannot predict how high the bidding will go for its three prints, but expected the extra attention from Banksy's last stunt will draw more buyers and have an impact on prices.

All the seats are taken at the next auction and members of the international media are showing up.

Bidding on a print of Stop And Search, depicting Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz being searched by a policeman, starts at €30,000 (S$48,000), a bargain compared with the £1 million (S$1.8 million) that Girl With Balloon fetched moments before it self-destructed.

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2018, with the headline 'Banksy 'shredded picture' stunt not likely to happen again'. Print Edition | Subscribe